Cover Image: You Truly Assumed

You Truly Assumed

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Member Reviews

FIRST IMPRESSION:

I jumped at the chance to read You Truly Assumed because of the hype it received pre-publication. I had quite a few friends read ARCs of this book and rave about how much they liked it, so I was pretty excited about the chance I got myself! I was also curious about how this book would explore blogging as a means of making a change since I myself obviously blog on here. Though I got busy and overshot my blog tour stop by several days, I am still glad I made it!

THE STORY:

You Truly Assumed follows the story of Sabriya, Zakat and Farah as they maneuver their lives around the after-effects of a terrorist attack in DC. Sabriya expresses herself through her dancing but uses an online journal to work out her feelings after the attack, which mistakenly gets published online and becomes the blog named You Truly Assumed.

Zakat is trying her best to feel safe in her community at Lullwood, but is horrified when Islamophobic attacks take place in her safe neighbourhood. Farah is figuring out her place in her absentee dad’s new family while trying to engage with the community to help fight prejudice. These two girls stumble across You Truly Assumed and end up part of the admin group as they attempt to help Black Muslim girls across the country find their place.

But things get heated when the girls face challenges within their community as well as on their online safe space.

THE CHARACTERS:

Sabriya, Farah and Zakat were an amazing trio of friends who come together from four different corners of the country to put together their blog. These three working together, Zoom-calling each other really made me wanna get some amazing co-bloggers to help me out here too! LOL!

My favourite thing about these three is that they had their own individual lives and experiences with racism and the aftermath of the terrorist attack. I really liked the individual character arcs and that their friendship was mostly based on them catching up on each other’s lives.

THE WRITING:

I really liked that the author used three different POVs for its main characters. Each character had their own distinct voice and their personalities were very different.

The only thing that threw me off was that I felt the writing could get a little too detailed at times. Rather than showing what happened or what some was feeling, I found that there were many instances where the author was telling it to the reader. This didn’t really put me off the story but it’s a personal pet peeve that annoys me sometimes.

THE PLOT:

I really liked how one event sets off three different experiences for the three girls. This was an excellent way to highlight how traumatic events can affect everyone in different ways. My favourite thing about this was that while one person has a particularly confrontative experience, someone else would be having a passive-aggressive experience involving friends or family.

Though I don’t identify as Muslim or as a Black person, there were so many instances that had me cheering on these girls or getting frustrated at the racism and Islamophobia they experienced throughout the span of their story. I think almost everyone will find an experience here that they themselves or someone they know could relate to!

THE REPRESENTATION:

Once again, because I am not Muslim or Black, I cannot comment on the reliability of the representation. But the three main characters are teenage Black Muslim girls with a host of supporting characters. There are many instances of racism and Islamophobia that readers would find relatable or have heard of from their friends and family.

FINAL VERDICT:

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen is an eye-opening and beautiful look at the impact of a terrorist attack on three different Black Muslim girls. With three different voices living three different lives, this young-adult book takes the reader through an emotional journey of both healing and growth. Inspiring and raw, You Truly Assumed is a read that is important in this day and age.
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This book was about the events after a bombing in Washington DC. The bomber had a Muslim sounding name which evoked racism agains Muslims across the country. Four young Muslim girls started a blog to speak their truth, but they had to take it down when they received personal threats and were hacked. This is a touching story about self-realization and strength. I highly recommend it to middle and high school libraries. Thank you for the advanced copy!
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First Impressions: Loving the intersectionality of this writing.

Three Black Muslim girls start a blog that goes viral after a recent terrosist attack was assumed to be Muslim by his name. Sabriya (who goes by Bri on the blog)  begins You Truly Assumed (YTA) As a private online journal to express her feelings after the recent rise in islamophobic things happening after the attack. After she realizes it was accidentally public and other Muslim girls of color resonate with her words. Soon Zakat (who goes by Kat on the blog) is working on the icon & drawings for the blog & Farah (who goes by Rose on the blog) works on the coding & website design. I really loved this book and how clearly and seamlessly Sabreen is able to express intersectionality. All three MC’s are Black, Muslim & Girls none of those identities can be seperated but that doesn’t stop society from trying. I also really appreciated the realistic way Sabreen talks about Islam; Americans/ non Muslims tend to think of islam as an “unchanging and oppressive”. However just with all religions the interpretation of the holy texts change slightly over time. As more women and non male scholars gain respect in the field, changes can be and are made. For example when Zakat’s Masjid removed the gendered entrances as it alienated a part of their community and they even added a third prayer room for people who don’t find themselves fitting into binary genders. That truly warmed my heart to read and I’ve only read about things like this in college as an outsider of the religion. 

This is an amazing book for Black Muslim Representation & and introduction to intersectional oppression and how difficult it is to Experience Anti-Blackness, Islamaophobia & Misogny all at once.
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I really loved this book! 

The characters were great, the writing was engaging, and it felt (at times unfortunately) so relatable. Heartfelt, thoughtful, tender, and lovely - reading this book felt a bit like a love letter to my community, and i’m so grateful for it!

I can’t wait for more from Laila Sabreen.
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How many times has tragic news broke and you wished the terrorist was not a brown person? That the victim was not a black person? That the nation will not point a finger at an entire religion? Too many for me to count. I am not alone in this thinking. When a terrorist attack hits the mainstream news, the first name is a common Arabic name. But it doesn't necessarily mean they're Muslim. Nonetheless, Islamophobia grows.

Sabriya turns to her online journal for comfort. You Truly Assumed was meant to be a private blog but soon turns into a public online safe space for Muslim teens. Soon Zakat and Farah join Sabriya in making the blog a successful community. The popularity grows along with their friendship. But with viral success comes hateful comments. The girls must decide whether to shut the blog down or make their voices heard louder than ever before.

Laila Sabreen has written such a thought-provoking motivational debut novel for young adults, especially Black Muslim girls. As a 40-year-old Black female blogger, I could personally relate. The themes explore the sentiment of minorities that our dreams don't matter; that we are all alike. As the author states in her note, we are out here! Represent proudly and recommend this book to the minority young adult in your life. You Truly Assumed is social justice fiction done right!

Happy Pub Day, Laila Sabreen! You Truly Assumed is now available.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

~LiteraryMarie
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You Truly Assumed is told from the perspectives of three unique young black Muslim women. At the open of the book, there is a terrorist attack in Washington, DC, where the terrorist is presumed to be Muslim based soley on his name. Sabriya, Zakat, and Farrah live in different part of the country, have different socioeconomic backgrounds, and family dynamics. We follow the individual journeys of these three young women as they navigate society in the aftermath. Their worlds intersect once Sabriya posts an online journal entry expressing her feelings--but little did she realize that it wasn't a private entry, but a public blog. The three young women work together on the blog to be a safe space for other young Muslim women to interact, though the comments with hate continue to increase. A few bumps happened along the way, but over the course of a few week, Sabriya, Zakat and Farrah grew immensely as people. 
While I couldn't identify with their voices on a personal level, the message of standing up for things you believe in and show your support, really resonated with me.
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Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of You Truly Assumed! 

I really wanted to love this one, since the premise is so interesting. This is the story of three Black Muslim girls, Sabriya, Zakat, and Farah, who meet through a blog that Sabriya starts in the wake of a terrorist attack in Washington, DC. The three girls live in different parts of the country but find that they are experiencing many of the same issues with hatred and discrimination, especially as most people assume the perpetrator of the attack is Muslim because he has a Muslim-sounding name. I really enjoyed learning about the Black Muslim community through the eyes of these girls, and I liked the way that the discrimination and bigotry were handled in the book. 

However, I found the execution of the story itself to be lacking. While the girls experienced different challenges throughout the book, I felt that there wasn't really enough depth to the plot to carry a whole novel. I also found the characters themselves to be somewhat one-dimensional, and their friendship didn't totally make sense to me either. I would have liked to see more scenes of the girls interacting with each other and developing a deeper friendship, rather than being told that they all became close without actually seeing it. I'd also have loved to see more of the content of Sabriya's blog, especially some more of the images and designs that are discussed throughout the book. 

Overall, I think this book makes some very crucial points, but it could have been executed a bit better.
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2.5 stars

I’m calling it now: this book is going to be on my Most Disappointing Books of 2022 list. I should have expected it when I saw it compared to Love, Hate & Other Filters, but I had hope it would be better. I was wrong.

In the interests of fairness: there were moments of value. The Black Muslim experience is so rarely represented in any media, and the book definitely had some powerful things to say about the intersectionality of being a Black Muslim girl (even if the Muslim part was questionable – see below). The emotions that the girls feel in relation to the Islamophobia was also painfully relatable – I felt like the anger and hopelessness was well expressed, as well as the way it affects a community.

But, all of that is outweighed by the messiness of everything else. In terms of technical craft, it read like a first draft. I don’t want to be too critical, since it was an ARC and I want to believe that some of those issues might have been fixed in the final publication, but the version I read was full of grammatical errors, and structural issues and inconsistencies. Something would happen in one perspective, then we’d cut to the next chapter/perspective and it wouldn’t have happened yet (and more often than not it happened again in the second perspective, in a different way than the first time), which meant I just couldn’t keep track of the timeline or plot half the time.

The pacing was also off. I’d originally assumed that the three girls were already friends before the start of the book and decided to start a blog together, but that’s not the case – they all meet each other through the blog and become friends later, because of it. Except… we never get any of that. Bri starts the blog, Zakat and Farah volunteer to help with it, and then suddenly they’re all best friends who understand each other better than anyone else – but we never actually see their friendship developing, so I never bought into it or felt emotionally invested in it. All three girls’ stories also felt totally disconnected, and any of them could have been a full novel all on its own, so having to fit in all three made them all feel underdeveloped.

But all of that pales in comparison to the major problem: the almost complete absence of Muslim representation. I’m not Black, so I can’t speak to that specific intersection, but faith should be faith regardless of race, and this book had none. Zakat wears hijab, and prays salah (the ritual daily prayers) exactly once, and there were occasional mentions of Allah in her and Bri’s chapters, but Farah’s POV in particular had absolutely nothing until she explicitly states “I’m Muslim” at the 59% mark.

2022 is the year I stop settling for crumbs when it comes to Muslim representation, and vague mentions and an Allah necklace aren’t enough if the representation doesn’t come through in the characters’ actions too. For instance, the romance (which wasn’t the only offender, but was one of the biggest): two of the girls had boyfriends, with whom they had the kind of emotional and physical relationship you would see in any non-religious YA contemporary, with nary even a vague allusion to the fact that that’s so deeply disallowed in Islam. It’s also unclear whether one of the boyfriends is Muslim or not – I guess ‘Muslim girl falls for Black boy of ambiguous faith’ is better than ‘Muslim girl falls for generic, white non-Muslim boy’, but not by a lot!

So, all in all, a disappointment. The positive reviews all talk about how great the portrayal of Islamophobia is, which is all fine and good, but at this point that’s not enough for me: I need my characters to actually be practicing Muslims too, and on that front this book did not deliver.

CW: racism; Islamophobia; microaggressions; online harassment
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Sabriya, Farrah, and Zakat are very different. Sabriya is training to be a professional ballerinas, Zakat is an artist hoping to get into a good college, and Farrah love computer science and programming. The one thing they all have in common, they are all Young Female Black Muslims. 

When a terrorist attack hits Washington DC, and the Muslim faith is attacked, Sabriya does the only thing she knows what to do. She writes about it. Starting a public blog was not her original intention, but once she gains the help of Zakat and Farrah the blog “You Truly Assumed” or YTA begins to blow up. 

YTA is gaining immense attention, and not all of it is good. As the girls struggle through the hateful comments constantly ringing through their blog, they must decide how far they are willing to go to make their voices heard. 

“You truly assumed that the world would heal and stay healthy while spinning constantly. A spinning driven in part by accepted half-truths and rumors that get taken as facts.” 

I feel like the three girls were very well written, we are given enough about their backstory, and current situation to really understand them. I love that these girls were able to find each other even spread across the whole country and give each other support and solidarity through a very difficult time. 

This book discusses very important topics and is written so beautifully. I think this is a great one to get into the hands of our youth, with so many important lessons to be learned. 

This one published February 8, 2022 so be sure to check it out now! Thank you so much @netgalley and @inkyardpress for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This book had me feeling some type of way! This is the kinds of representation that we need! My heart feels so full reading about three young black Muslim women! It’s all about coming together and creating a space safe and family and community. It’s powerful and just so relatable that as a Muslim myself so much resonated with me that I felt seen! Just amazing!
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I definitely enjoyed this one but it didn't stand out for me. I wasn't immediately captured and didn't feel like I could connect with the plot in general. I think I may need to give this a re-read later.
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You Truly Assumed made me feel close to its characters in ways that I didn't imagine. It had so, so many aspects that hit the soot in my heart just right. It was not just the representation, which I, as a south Asian Muslim content creator, thought was incredible. 

But it was other facets of the characters as well, most of all their love for their respective art forms. 


We have three main characters, Sabriya, Zakat, and Farah. 


Sabriya is a dancer, and she is getting ready to pursue it properly. But she's also a writer by hobby and she is someone who takes risks by expressing her opinions and standing up for her community- and that was inspiring as well as motivating. Even if it was not 10,000 readers at first, she's making a difference. 


Then there's Farah, who is a passionate artist, and Zakat, whose field is computer science. 


I would be honest and say that this isn't the story I would put in the "fun, adorable, read" category, just because I think that it carries a lot of meaning as more than just a book I read. It talks about so many important topics that are first-hand so close, so noteworthy and powerful and relatable to me and so many others. 


There's always some or the other controversy or issue going on in my country or the world about Islamophobia and racism that this kind of story will never just be a passing trend or ever fail to impact and connect to its readers. 

It's not only a story to relate to, but to learn from. It shows its readers that there can be more than one interpretation of religion and people can live in harmony despite that. 


It breaks so many stereotypes about Islam and I loved that about it. 

I don't want to completely ignore the fact that more anything, it stresses on the identity of being a black Muslim. Even if I'm not a person from that community, I appreciate everything I understood and discovered about them. I love how the author made me empathize with not just their religious identities, but their personality as a person. 

The side characters were also certainly well written and there were also quite a few cute couple moments that I loved. 

Overall, I highly enjoyed reading this book I think it's a very important story and it was told very well.
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My recent reading has shied away from identity and the traumas thereof (I experience enough in real life tx), I couldn't pass up on this upcoming novel from Laila Sabreen.

In an Islamophobic society, it's so important that Muslim representation is brought to the fore, especially in publishing, where we've seen multiple novels- especially mystery thrillers - with every slightly Middle-Eastern character moonlighting as a terrorist (and now I'm thinking back to Bodyguard on Netflix as well).

This title is branded as YA, and you all know I love a good YA that tackles complex topics and doesn't condescend to the reader. I've been finding myself looking forward to new YA and New Adult releases, which is surprising since I've been a long-term hater😅

I haven't gotten far, but the pacing has been good so far, and I enjoy the focus on the characters as people and not plot devices.
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4.5 stars!

I adored You Truly Assumed! It was heart-wrenching, and so incredibly empowering. The story follows such unique and well-developed characters. The main characters (Sabriya, Zakat, and Farah), were very likable. I loved how they all came from different backgrounds, but could all be united together to stop Islamophobia. Furthermore, the work they do, and the challenges they face made me tear up. I don’t want to spoil anything, so all I’m going to say is that you’re definitely in for a ride! Unfortunately though, I do wish Sabriya, Zakat, and Farah had more of an intimate relationship. While I found the three of them to be very interesting characters on their own, I wish their friendship had more time to develop and grow. Overall, I truly loved You Truly Assumed. (Pun intended.) It was a refreshing read I recommend to everyone, especially to teens. I’m sure people of all ages will be inspired by these three amazing young women!
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YOU TRULY ASSUMED is a poignant and powerful debut by a shining new talent, Laila Sabreen.

The book follows three Black Muslim teenage girls in the wake of a terrorist attack that is allegedly done by a Muslim extremist. In the wake of this, the girls face Islamophobia, racism, and other microaggressions, which inspires Sabriya to document her feelings on her blog, You Truly Assumed. Other girls, Zakat and Farah, soon join her when the blog takes on a life of its own, and what follows is a brilliant coming of age story about what it means to be Black, Muslim, and a young woman, how to build a community, the importance of friendship, and more.

This nuanced exploration of intersectional identities is gripping from the very first page and highly relatable to me as an American Muslim woman who was in school during 9/11. In fact, there were many points where I related a little too much and had to put the book down to gather my thoughts, but it also granted me insight into Muslim identities outside of my own. I would highly recommend it to readers of all backgrounds.

Thank you to NetGalley and the author for an ARC. This is my honest review in return.
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You Truly Assumed, by Laila Sabreen, is an eloquent coming of age story that is a voice for black Muslim teens and a powerful glimpse inside their world for everyone else. Sabreen deftly creates unique experiences and voices for the three protagonists, Sabriya, Zakat, and Farrah. I love that we see nuances to beliefs and values within the black Muslim American experience as these young women find and refine their passions and use them to take action against anti-Muslim prejudice in the wake of a terrorist act that stirs hate across the nation. Tensions with family and friends provide a backdrop that allows all teens opportunities to relate, while at the same time building understanding for those who may be different. This is a book that I will be recommending often.

Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and the author for early access to an eCopy of the novel.
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The premise of this book is incredible, and the stories of its characters beyond necessary. That said, I thought the execution could have been a bit better? Still, a super important book that is definitely worth reading, let's break down what I liked versus what I'd have liked to see a bit more of!

What I Loved: 

►Having three Black Muslim main characters is fabulous and awesome and important. I cannot speak for the representation, but I thought it was beyond wonderful to read about these young women and their experiences, especially following an attack that provoked increased anti-Islamic rhetoric across the country. It's completely awful that these young women, or anyone, should be subject to such hate, and I think this book does a wonderful job illustrating that.

►I loved how it tackled the internet as its own awful form of hate. I mean, hate everywhere is terrible, but there is something about the internet that makes the worst in people come out. Perhaps it's the perceived anonymity of hiding behind a screen, but there were just some awful things being said about these young women who were simply trying to express themselves, and create a safe space for others to share their own feelings. It's disgusting, frankly.

►And, it becomes easy to see how this hate spills over into real life. Really, it's a gut punch to see how easy it was in many cases for even grown adults to treat some of these young women terribly. How could they!? I still can't wrap my head around it, but it was great that the author was able to shine a light on it.

►Loved the relationships the book featured. Not only the friendships among the girls, but their friendships with others, their familial relationships, and their romantic relationships. Because there were three characters with three totally separate lives, we got to take a look at so many different relationships, and that was pretty great!

What I Didn't: 

►The characters' voices simply didn't feel unique to me. Each girl absolutely had her own story, and her own background, so that isn't what I mean. Rather, all of their internal voices just felt very... generic, perhaps, is the best word. I could tell them apart based on their circumstances, locations, families, etc., but not necessarily on their voices and personalities, and that was kind of a bummer.

►The dialogue just felt very off to me. A bit stilted, perhaps? Not the way anyone really communicates, I suppose, and definitely not the way I expect teens to communicate. It felt rather formal, and like no one knew each other on a personal level. Kind of the way I'd speak to the receptionist at my dentist's office: perfectly polite, but without a ton of emotion or connection. I think because of that, I never really felt the characters' relationships with each other on an emotional level. Like, I was obviously glad they had each other to commiserate with, to talk these things out with, but it would have been so great to feel that, instead of just have them say they enjoyed each other in a fairly unemotional tone.

►Some of the story felt kind of easy. I mean, as an actual blog owner, I haven't a clue how a person could make an accidental blog, but I went with it. And I could overlook some of the ease to which certain problems were overcome, because of course this story was supposed to have an upbeat ending. But just a lot of the ease in which stuff was overcome had me scratching my head a bit, frankly.

►Certain plot choices confused me. To the point where I wondered if this story was taking place now, even? For example, one of the moms was mentioned listening to a Mariah Carey CD in the car. I haven't a new car by any stretch of the imagination, and it doesn't even have a CD player. One character was asked if she knew how to Skype and... ?? Then, in the very beginning, literally all the ballet auditions everywhere in the general vicinity are canceled because of this attack, and the sad truth is, in 2022 America, violence is simply too commonplace for long term closures like that. Basically, it seemed like choices were being taken to move the plot forward when they didn't really make sense, is my point.

Bottom Line: There is a lot worth reading here, even if the execution wasn't perfect, so I definitely still recommend.
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*4.5 stars

I really loved this book for many reasons. First and foremost, we get to see three unique perspectives of Black Muslim women who end up striking a friendship up via a blog created by Sabriya called You Truly Assumed. I love that the intersectionality of each of these womens' identities was discussed and highlighted throughout the book. These women don't just face prejudice because of one of their identities but all of them - being a woman who is Black and also Muslim. I'm really glad that this book gave space for these women and their experiences. I found the concept of the blog fun for similar reasons. Next, I loved the emphasis on friendship throughout the book. Some of my closest friends are ones that I talk to or have met online first and then in person so to see that friendship portrayed between Sabriya, Zakat, and Farah made me happy. I also think that the book did a good job balancing the hardships that the characters faced while still continuing to focus on moments of love and family and friendship. Being that this book is a young adult contemporary the characters' voices did read young, but I think it's important to keep in mind that it is because they are young. All three main characters are still in high school and the adversity they are facing does force them to grow up and mature in ways that their white counterparts might not have to, however, that doesn't mean that their lives revolve around their traumatic experiences. It made me excited to see Farah and Riley's relationship being explored (they were so gosh darn cute) and how she was navigating seeing Tommy after so long and adjusting to his new life and family. I loved Zakat and Aafreen's friendship and how they would work together at the bookstore. There were many small moments that brought a smile to my face and I think those moments were just as important as the more scary, racist instances that all these women had to face. I highly recommend this book to everyone and will definitely be re-reading this book in the future.
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There’s not as many books representing Muslim teens in Young Adult fiction, especially centering Black girls. You Truly Assumed is an incredible read focusing on three teens who have more in common than they would originally think. This book really brings a strong sense of community and joy and finding pieces of yourself within others. I really love the interactions between the girls and the strong bonds formed. It’s a great read (with an even better cover!)
TW: racism, Islamophobia, hate speech
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There are so many great things about this book. I loved that Sabriya, Farah, and Zakat form close bonds over blogging. I’ve had a couple blogging friends over the years, and those are always really cool relationships, so I loved getting to read about them. I also loved that they were so different from one another. Sabriya is a dancer, and I loved getting to see her in class and working on performances. It was cool seeing her world through the eyes of a Black dancer and all that meant to her. She’s also the blog founder and main writer.

Farah is super gifted at coding, so she brought some specific talent to the blog, too. I think from an emotional perspective, her story resonated with me the most. She reluctantly reconnects with her estranged father and meets his family for the first time. She also meets other Black Muslim girls in Boston, where he lives, and works with them on a vigil for a girl who was murdered.

Zakat has a totally different experience from the other girls as she grows up attending a Muslim school and surrounded by a lot of support for her faith. She’s an artist, and the descriptions of her work were really cool. I found myself wishing that the book included drawings or graphic panels representing her pieces, especially alongside the blog posts. I think that would have been really cool.

All three girls experience Islamophobic behavior in the wake of the attack in Washington DC. At first I thought it was an odd choice that we’re following three different girls from three different states, but as the events unfolded after the DC attack, choosing characters from different places made a lot of sense, because it showed how far-reaching the effects of the rising Islamophobia were and how it affected so many different communities.

I really liked the story and enjoyed all three main characters. I’m not even sure I could pick a favorite. They were all compelling stories. The only thing that tripped me up at all was the dialogue. I felt like a lot of characters sounded the same. It seemed like a lot of times the dialogue was written in long sentences or long paragraphs that didn’t feel very natural to me. That could just be me– I have definitely gotten spoiled for stories with a lot of blank space on the page around choppy, fast-paced dialogue. So that’s probably not a flaw, just a preference.

On the whole, though, I really enjoyed reading this book. I think readers who enjoyed MISFIT IN LOVE by S. K. Ali will enjoy this one.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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